Monday, April 6, 2009

Using Planned Sabotage as an Opportunity for Opening Communication

I thought I would share a little about my thoughts on and uses of planned sabotage to promote learning and development. I know that in my own life, whether planned or not, situations that had me "up against the wall" so to speak, forced me to come up with new strategies and problem solving - in ways that built new abilities that I might have otherwise been unmotivated to learn or try.
In this spirit, I think about those students that I work with in assistive technology and how I use sabotage with them. I think that the first time I began to think this way for the area of communication was when I attended a Linda Burkhart day workshop. For those of you who don't know Linda, she is a fireball of ideas and strategies for severely disabled children who seemed to be "locked out" of the everyday world because of multiple disorders.
Linda showed us video of her using planned sabotage to get a reaction out of children who were otherwise non-communicative. She worked to find the thing that was the hot-button for a child and then would take it away to get any indication of how they asked for it back. Was it screaming? Was it shaking? Was it working the tongue? Working in this method (I am giving you a short version) she found the initial indications for communication to start on cause and effect and intentional communication.
Since then, I have been using that kind of technique when I work with a team and we are looking at how to "crack the code" for a child. I have seen some wonderful things also come out of this technique using a multi-sensory assement as laid out byJane Korsten in her "Every Move Counts: Clicks and Chats" materials. She has found that mama's perfume can bring an acknowledgement - but sometimes it is through a sharp smell like Pine Sol or something that a student doesn't like. How about a sour taste on the tip of the tongue? This sounds cruel to some of you maybe, but it is a starting point to find how a chidl reacts and communicates dissatisfaction.
I found an interesting chapter in Google Books on planned sabotage. The book is: "Parenting Your Asperger Child" byAlan Sohn Ed.D and Cathy Grayson M.A.
They share in Chapter 10, on pages 204, 205, 206 that once you settle an asperger student into a safe routine and get them relaxed and comfortable, you can start to manipulate that routine in subtle ways with planned sabotage to begin to teach flexibility, problems and solutions and good and bad choices. The student subject they shared about was able to mainstream to a regular classroom and learned coping strategies to face day to day issues that come up.
I hope you will look at Linda and Jane's sites, read the selected pages on planned sabotage and think about how this can help you in your work.

All the best to you!

Lon Thornburg is an assistive technology specialist and professional development trainer who lives in Oregon and serves 12 districts in 7 counties. He hosts the No Limits 2 Learning Blog and The No Limits 2 Learning Live Talk Show on Blog Talk Radio. He is sharing as a contributing writer on LD LIVE!


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